Botswana’s villages surrounding the Okavango Delta, and Bushman families within the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) have been hit hard by poverty, as they lack basic foodstuff and basic materials such as blankets amid changes in night-time frigid temperatures.
Recently the villagers received a temporal respite from the lack of basic foodstuffs though Wilderness Safaris Botswana Community Support under managing director Kim Nixon, which donated food stuffs and other essential facilities.
Current hardships that are faced by villagers are largely due to Covid-19 doldrums, taking into consideration that, villagers largely rely on the tourism industry which at this present time is temporally closed. On top of that there is high unemployment rate among villagers.
“People in these villages…are either unemployed, doing subsistence farming (livestock or food staples), or their work is related to tourism or government” said Nixon.
‘… with the onset of COVID-19 and lockdown, people are staying at home on reduced salaries, or no salary. The amount of money coming into the villages has reduced drastically and supplies in many of these villages or settlements are extremely limited,” added Nixon.
Villagers usually take their plea to the village Chief who then contacts various donor organization for help.
“…people appeal to the chief (and other village leadership structures) for help. The first request for help came from Chief Moalosi of Sankuyo village he reached out to us,” noted Nixon.
So far most of the villagers received a plethora of essentials from Wilderness Safaris Botswana Community Support, ranging from staples encompassing beans, maize, rice, sorghum, soap and washing powder, toothpaste and toothbrushes, corned beef, matches, sugar, tea, cooking oil.
Each hamper that was delivered is said to feed a family of four to six for a month. When handing over the donations donors are obliged to do so through the top leadership of the village.
“We hand over the goods in a ceremony to the chief (and/ or the District Commissioner/ representative) of each village and using Wilderness Safaris vehicles and staff, we then help them deliver the hampers to families under the guidance of the local leadership: the chief. They’re the ones who have drawn up the list of hamper recipients,” added Nixon
Wilderness Safaris Botswana Wellness and Retail Manager Kgabiso Gabanakitso was emotionally traumatized due to the living conditions of the villagers.
‘I was not emotionally prepared for what I came to experience. I was aware that there is some poverty in these areas, but not as common as what I saw in a few places. On the first day when Kim had joined in and was doing the first handout at Seronga to five elderly folk, I saw first-hand that these people had probably not eaten in a while, they also hadn’t bathed. Even though I had in the past contributed to help alleviate poverty, that was not at the front face of it. I cried that morning seeing what a huge difference our delivery was going to make,” said Gabanakitso
Due to the Covid-19 doldrums, villagers are in great need of donations for them to survive.
Liberty Pazvakawambwa SADC NEWS Correspondent